PROVO — It was only the first meet of the 2012-'13 season, but already Maple Mountain looks like the team to beat in 4A this winter.
Wrestling without two of its returning state champions (Jesse Carlisle and Grant LaMont), the Golden Eagles were still too powerful for Layton Tuesday night, defeating the Lancers 57-18. What makes Maple Mountain's victory more impressive is that it came against a perennial power in 5A wrestling as Layton finished fifth in 2011 after placing second in 2010.
The two squads met up in the third-annual Wrestling Against Cancer Duals hosted by Provo High School. A total of five duals were wrestled and Maple Mountain, Murray, Westlake, West and Lone Peak were victorious.
Maple Mountain came out strong against Layton with five straight pins. The matches began at 132 pounds and senior Clay Dean pinned Gabe Wilson to start things off right for the Golden Eagles.
Landon Knutzen then won by pin at 138 pounds, followed by Johnny O'Hearon (145), Brooks Robinson (152) and Kimball Bastian (160) all securing falls.
Bastian's win was especially impressive as he did it against Davis Marriott, who placed third for the Lancers last season. Bastian placed second in state last season in prep action but has turned heads last summer with All-American finishes in the Freestyle and Greco-Roman styles.
Down 30-0 Layton cracked the scoreboard when Colton Marshall decisioned Weston Taylor 10-3. But Maple Mountain responded with two-straight pins by Josh Searle and Jon Wixom at 182 and 195 pounds, respectively. Wixom, a move-in from California and a returning state qualifier from the Golden State, showed he will be a force to be reckoned with.
The pins pushed Maple Mountain out front 42-3, but Layton got pins by Dylan Sackett (220) and Jesus Avina (285) to trim the Golden Eagle lead to 42-13.
Maple Mountain then posted three straight wins as Tanner Cox secured an 8-3 win over Layton's Braxton Ocana, and Taylor LaMont (113) and three-time state champ Britain Carter (120) won by pin to put Maple Mountain way out in front, 57-15.
Layton got one last victory as Andrew Astle defeated Trent Kelly 5-4. Astle reversed Kelly in the final seconds to earn a hard-fought win between two returning state placers.
Layton competed without Ken Astle, a two-time returning champ, who sat out with an injury.
In other meets: Mountain View crushed Murray 67-12; Westlake topped Timpview 48-30; West defeated Timpanogos 46-33; and Lone Peak cruised by host Provo 51-25.
The Wrestling Against Cancer Duals were organized by former Provo High School head wrestling coach Brian Preece to honor his friend and coaching rival, Ric Thompson, who passed away from the disease Nov. 11, 2010.
Thompson was a two-time state champ for Brighton High School and as a coach led Payson to its first-ever state title in 1998. Thompson and his wife Angie created the Wrestling Against Cancer Foundation. Tyson Thompson, a three-time state wrestling champion for Lehi, represented the family at this year's event. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the foundation.
Story by Brian E. Preece who is a freelance sports writer who has been published by the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Daily Herald and Coaches Quarterly magazine. Preece was also the former head wrestling coach at Provo HS from 1994-2006.